A US space company that aims to send tourists into space using massive balloons is now buying up ships to turn them into ‘floating spaceports’.
Florida-based firm Space Perspective has acquired a 292-foot-long shipping vessel from Los Angeles shipbuilder Edison Chouest Offshore.
The ship, now named MS Voyager, will become the world’s first ‘marine spaceport’ for human spaceflight – and the first in a planned global fleet operated by Space Perspective.
The fleet of shipping vessels will host launches of Space Neptune, the company’s luxury passenger capsule that will be carried into space by a football stadium-sized inflated balloon.
Space Perspective is currently selling flights on its Space Neptune capsules for $125,000 (£91,000) that will gift voyagers ‘safe and sustainable’ journeys to the edge of space and ‘insane’ views of Earth.
Passengers will be able to feast their eyes on 360-degree views of Earth while inside the capsule, which comes complete with a bathroom, bar and on-board Wi-Fi.
Launching from 2024, each capsule will take up to eight guests into the stratosphere, around 100,000 feet (19 miles) above our planet’s surface, for a trip that lasts six hours.
MS Voyager will be one of a fleet of shipping vessels that will act as a launch pad for Space Neptune, a luxury passenger capsule that will be carried into space by an huge inflated balloon
Space Perspective announced it acquired the 292-foot-long shipping vessel from Los-Angeles shipbuilder Edison Chouest Offshore
According to the firm, marine spaceports create ideal launch conditions in two ways – firstly, once launched, the space balloons can move with the sea breeze
A spaceport is simply a site for launching and receiving spacecraft – but they are traditionally on land.
Florida firm Space Perspective is now buying up shipping vessels to turn them into ‘marine spaceports’ – ships that host space launches.
Its first shipping vessel has been purchased from LA company Edison Chouest Offshore and christened ‘MS Voyager’.
The name Voyager is an homage to the Voyager 1 Space Probe mission which, on astronomer Carl Sagan’s request, took a photo of Earth from across the solar system on February 14, 1990.
Spaceflights for 2024 are sold out, but customers can still book their seat now for 2025, according to the firm’s website. Buyers have to put down a $1,000 deposit up-front and pay the rest later.
Space Perspective is led by husband and wife team Taber MacCallum and Jane Poynter, who founded the firm in 2019.
According to the firm, marine spaceports create ideal launch conditions in two ways – firstly, once launched, the space balloons can move with the sea breeze.
Secondly, unlike more conventional land-based ports, ships can navigate to areas of good weather, which allows for year-round operations within a given region.
Both these factors mean there will be more frequent launch opportunities, as well as more options for the time of day, including sunrise and sunset flights.
What’s more, launches will be able to take place in different parts of the world, which will gift customers ‘awe-inspiring’ views of different parts of Earth during the ascent and descent.
‘Space Perspective will change your relationship with our planet by providing the quintessential astronaut experience of viewing Earth from the blackness of space,’ said Poynter.
‘Removing geographic borders for launch and landing accelerates our mission of making this transformative experience more accessible to the world and international marketplace – safely, reliably and with minimal impact on our planet.
The Florida-based company is offering a unique experience that’s smoother than the ride on the spacecrafts of Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, owing to the balloon that’s used to lift the capsule to space. Pictured above is the firm’s rendering of the capsule
The ultimate balloon ride: Space Perspective will take up to eight space tourists on a $125,000 per person journey, 20 miles above Earth
The entire trips, from launch to the stratosphere to landing, will take a total of six hours to complete – two hours is spent in the stratosphere
A spaceport is simply a site for launching and receiving spacecraft – but they are traditionally on land. Florida firm Space Perspective is now buying up shipping vessels to turn them into ‘marine spaceports’ – ships that host space launches
THE ‘SPACE NEPTUNE’ CAPSULE
The pressurised, roomy capsule will let customers experience ‘the majesty of gliding through space while sipping a beverage of choice’.
– Nine reclining, plush seats, for eight Space Explorers and a pilot.
– 360-degree panoramic windows.
– Refreshments bar and cabinet for belongings.
– Lavatory below the main deck.
– Wi-Fi connection, with communications devices to enable live streaming.
– Non-glare windows for excellent photography from inside the capsule.
– Sensors showing altitude, wind, and temperature throughout the flight.
– Instrument trunk on the capsule’s roof and below deck for research equipment.
– Splashdown Cone at base allows for smooth landing on the water.
‘We always imagined offering the opportunity to view the most incredible natural phenomena from space, including the Northern Lights, the boot of Italy, the sheer scale of the Nile Delta, and the deep blue seas around the Bahamas.
‘Marine Spaceports like MS Voyager make this a reality.’
MS Voyager is named after the Voyager 1 Space Probe mission which, on astronomer Carl Sagan’s request, took a photo of Earth from across the solar system on February 14, 1990.
That photo, now known as Pale Blue Dot, inspired Sagan’s book of the same name and his call for humans to ‘preserve and cherish’ the ‘only home we’ve ever known’.
Unlike rocket-based flights, Space Perspective promises a calm experience since its spherical pod is being propelled into the planet’s stratosphere by a balloon.
Space Perspective will be about relaxation – it will move at only 12 miles per hour during ascent and descent.
From launch it takes about two hours to get to the 19 mile (30km) altitude – officially in the stratosphere, the second layer of Earth’s atmosphere.
During the ascent, passengers will be able to see as far as 450 miles in every direction, and at peak altitude they’ll see the total blackness of space and the curvature of Earth.
Throughout the flight, travellers will be given breakfast, can order drinks and sit back in their plush reclining seats while soaking up the exclusive views.
Non-glare windows will provide an opportunity for excellent photography from inside the capsule, the firm claims – perfect for the exclusive Instagram that will be the envy of anyone’s followers.
Multiple Spaceship Neptune capsules would be able to see each other in space from 20 to 30 miles away, and would also be visible for people on the ground.
When it’s time to come back to Earth at the end of the journey in Spaceship Neptune’s pressurized capsule, a patent-pending splash-cone at its base provides a ‘smooth and gentle water landing’.
Boats will then arrive to stabilize the capsule, which will be lifted back onto the marine spaceport by a custom-built A-frame.
Customers have already bought up entire capsules for group events and some even want to have their weddings there, according to the firm, which started selling flights at the end of June 2021.
Others may celebrate their milestone birthday aboard a capsule or take a corporate event ‘to new heights’, according to the company.
Space Perspective is currently selling flights on its Space Neptune capsules that will gift voyagers ‘safe and sustainable’ journeys to the edge of space and ‘insane’ views of Earth. Pictured is an alternative design for the capsule
Passengers will soar 20 miles above the surface and feast their eyes on 360-degree views of Earth while inside a capsule that provides a bathroom and bar
Pictured taken during Space Perspective’s test flight of its giant balloon that soared 20 miles above the surface in June 2021
In June, one of the company’s test vehicles successfully launched from the Space Coast Spaceport, adjacent to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
The vehicle flew to its target altitude and traversed the Florida peninsula before splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico and being recovered.
Space Perspective does not see Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin or SpaceX – led by Sir Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, respectively – as competitors, because the experience it will provide will be ‘completely different’.
But it’s been working with SpaceX and Blue Origin through weekly calls to discuss safety issues and regulatory issues and ‘share lessons learned’.
The couple also pointed out that $125,000 is cheaper than the price asked by Jeff Bezos’s company Blue Origin for commercial space flights.
Blue Origin said in 2018 that it was planning to charge passengers at least $200,000 for a ride to space aboard its rocket.
Blue Origin sent its first crewed mission into space on July 20 last year – the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
SPACE PERSPECTIVE REVEALS NEW RENDERINGS SHOWING THE LUXURIOUS INTERIOR OF ITS ‘SPACE NEPTUNE’ CAPSULE
In July 2022, Space Perspective finalized its design for Spaceship Neptune, a sleek-looking capsule that will offer epic views 20 miles above Earth and luxury amenities – if you don’t mind forking over $125,000 per ticket.
The Florida-based company, which is constructing Spaceship Neptune near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, is planning to offer up to eight passengers at a time the chance to soak up panoramic views of Earth during the six-hour round trip.
Space Perspective promises a calm space experience since its spherical pod is being propelled into the planet’s stratosphere by a massive inflated balloon.
‘We now also have an exterior aesthetic that is every bit as powerful as the interior … the engineering team have delivered an unsurpassable outcome in relation to performance and safety,’ the company’s lead designers said. Pictured is a conceptual view of the interior, showing panoramic windows and a bar area
As of July 2022, Space Perspective has already sold 900 tickets, has targeted commercial flights to being in late 2024 and is taking reservations for 2025 as well. Pictured above is a conceptual view of the interior, showing ample space for passengers and their belongings
The larger capsule allowed for a roomier interior that can hold two more passengers that previous design shown in October of last year, the Florida-based firm announced. Pictured above is a conceptual view of the interior, showing large reclining seats